Sheppard Robson has thrown its hat into the ring in the battle to design Manchester's new super-casino.
Last week the city surprised the gambling world by seeing off bids from bookies' favourites Blackpool and the Millennium Dome to land the licence for the country's first Las Vegas-style casino development (Simpson still not home and dry after Manchester super-casino win
However, shortly after the announcement, it emerged that Ian Simpson and the developer team behind the winning bid (pictured
) were not guaranteed to get their hands on the much-sought-after project.
Under the Gambling Act, Manchester City Council is required to reopen the competition for the casino scheme, which will be built on land next to next to Sportcity in the New East Manchester regeneration zone.
Unsurprisingly, a growing gaggle of practices is now being linked with the job.
According to rumours, the authority has already drawn up a four-strong shortlist, which includes Simpson with Ask, Artisan and Kersner - the council's original preferred developers for the site.
The AJ has also learned that Allied London has been invited to compete for the project and that the developer has turned to Sheppard Robson to work on its bid.
Other names being bandied around include big boys BDP and Broadway Malyan - although both practices denied they had been approached at this stage.
Meanwhile, Manchester's victory could yet come unstuck, as a number of MPs have signed an Early Day Motion to challenge the government's decision - a decision which still needs rubber stamping by parliament before the city can start work on the casino.
Some politicians are concerned that, without the attraction of a super-casino, Blackpool's embryonic but ambitious regeneration programme could come to a juddering halt.by Richard Waite